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Initial Impressions | RP91 vs Skyworth (mini-shootout)
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Skyworth reading | "Fixes"
Skyworth 1050P vs. Panasonic RP91
Well this isn't a real shootout in the sense that the equipment are put through the
paces in a set of structured instrumented tests.
This was simply an informal comparison between the two players. Tests were
basically measured by eyeballing the results from VE and Avia as well as some reference
Jim Ferguson, software developer extraordinaire who developed the in-demand YXY scaler,
provided the brand new Panasonic RP91. It is hooked up through a Vigatec feeding his
Barco 808 front projection system with a 104" screen. Awesome setup!
I of course brought the Skyworth. Denis Mutlu of TAW, makers of "The
Rock" scaler, was also there to provide his technical expertise and analysis.
Due to demands of work, I was late in arriving which shortened even more the already
abbreviated session. So for the tests that followed, only the skyworth was
really looked at.
We initially had some difficulty getting the display to "synch up" with the
skyworth. After a few minutes of fiddling with the Vigatec and rechecking our
connections, the image finally popped up on the screen. For this session, the sky was
connected only via the progressive component terminals.
Sharpness: It was solid with no ringing detected.
Pixel cropping: It was amazingly good in that all sides were
even. Top and bottom were zero while both left and right were about 2-3 pixels.
Resolution: 100TVL and 200TVL were good with some
shimmering on the 6.75MHz band which isn't present on my 65x81. It could be that
the pattern is now projected on a much bigger screen.
Moving Zone Plate: Performance in both high and low
showed moire as expected.
Overscan Bounce: It was solid with no tearing while
cycling between normal and inverse video.
Y/C Delay: Since we are connected via component, the
error was visible. The numbers were less than the readings on my set but are still
evident here. It is also interesting that there appeared to be some sort of a color
bleed on the left edges of each color bar; perhaps some form of a chroma bug.
This isn't present in my 65" system but it could be that because it is now magnified
on the 104" screen!
Video Essentials Test
We loaded the VE disc and went to the montage. Overall, the image was good but
still displayed some shimmering in scenes such as in the stadium, the train, and the
James Taylor Concert Test
The image was solid with no jaggies especially in the guitar strings. The image
was a bit bright. It was later realized that in trying to sync up the sky earlier, the
brightness was inadvertently bumped up a few notches which affected the image color/depth
James Taylor Concert on the RP91
Pressed for time, we loaded the disc on the RP91 for an immediate comparo. The
image was again a bit bright so it was reduced a few notches down to an acceptable level.
With the brightness adjusted, the image now shows more depth and color. The
image looks good but does suffer from jaggies in scenes that have intricate detail like
the background singer's shirt and the guitar strings.
While I was packing up the skyworth, Jim demo'ed to me the auto-scale feature of the
RP91 which the skyworth sorely lacks. Very very nice. Also, there sure is a
lot more menu options on this unit than the sky.
So Which one is Better?
It's really hard to say since not enough time was really spent on either one. I
do like them both though.
The RP91 is a solidly built player that produces a very nice progressive image. I
really like its autoscale feature. It automatically scales 4:3, letterbox, anamorphic, and
non-anamorphic movies to their correct aspect ratio. This feature really shines in
effortlessly scaling and playing non-anamorphic movies as anamorphic! The RP91 is the only
unit in this price range that is capable of doing this. (A fellow enthusiast however
submits that his JVC XV-D723GD also has that capability.) This feature is especially
critical to owners of sets that have no image size control or lock to "Full"
mode when sent a 480p signal. This player also has a littany of menu options for video and
audio which adds to its flexibility to meet user preferences. I may actually get
one not only for its autoscale feature but also for its audio (DVD-A) capability.
I also like the Skyworth not just because I already have it, but because of its
deinterlacer. It is really VERY good! I guess you have to see it to appreciate it.
It is of course an added bonus that it has the versatility to play various audio/video
formats and lack industry driven restrictions. And all that for not a lot of
As noted above, the image produced by Sky via the Sage chip with DCDI is definitely
worth it. Credit to Skyworth for their coup-de-tat to secure the chip for the
player. It makes one wonder how they were able to do it and not the goliaths in the
industry. Was it forethought, marketing, networking? Who knows but a lot of early
adopters are very happy they did.
At any rate, the sky produced solid images with no jaggies in static or motion
scenes. On the James Taylor DVD which has inherently soft scenes, the sky appeared
soft. The RP91 also looked soft in the same scenes but was a tad sharper. This
would be good but the added sharpness worked against it by causing some jaggies.
Both the Sky and RP91 deliver a very good image. You can't really go wrong with
either one. If you are looking for a definitive answer on which is better, you won't
find it here. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. It really depends more on
your viewing preference and what features you are looking for in a player.
If you are in the market for a progressive player, please check out the review of this
player along with other contenders in the August 2001 hometheaterhifi.com Progressive